A case in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s two private security detail Thato Refilwe Kopong and Mike Mareledi Maake were accused of trying to assassinate President Mokgweetsi Masisi in Palapye, was withdrawn yesterday (Friday), by Magistrate Reuben Sebetela at Palapye Magistrate Court.
On October 4th the accused Kopong and Maake were arraigned before Sebetela on a charge of unlawful possession of a weapon, contrary to section 25 (1) (b) of the Arms and Ammunition Act, No. 19 of 2008. Sometime early this year the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS), through their Director General Peter Magosi reported assassination attempts on President Mokgweetsi Masisi. In his rigours of validating this threat, DIS Director General Magosi indicated that his duty is to protect the President and he will not be shaken.
It later emerged that the men or would be assassins fingered in this attempts want to use a ‘toy gun’ purchased over the counter to kill the President, the court confirmed this week. The court in Palapye heard that the “weapon” in the basis of the charge is actually a paint ball gun, purchased over the counter.
On the same date, the Defence raised an exception to the charge on the basis that the charge does not disclose any offence cognizable by the court, in terms of section 150 (1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. The Court ordered that the argument on the exception will be heard on November 8th 2019.
When the case was called on 8th November (yesterday), the Prosecutor was not ready to argue and requested a postponement on the basis that the prosecution was still waiting for legal advice from the Legislative Drafting Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers. Defence opposed the application for postponement and moved the court to hear the case as ordered on the 4th October. The Magistrate, after hearing a short argument by the Defence, ordered that the case be withdrawn because the State is not ready to prosecute it and declared the two accused persons discharged.
This publication had reported that an unswerving source within the former President’s security detail has revealed that the weapons confiscated by members of the Directorate and Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) at Palapye are described and known as the Tippmann X TiPX. A 68 Caliber Paintball Pistol, which is generally used by the former President’s private security on daily basis while on duty.
One of the accused men Mike Maake, has his resume sprinkled with bouts at the commando unit of the Botswana Defence Force; and being an agent of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS). He is currently an employee of Avante Security Services, where he is on secondment to Khama’s private security detail.
Early this year at a press conference, DIS Director General Brigadier Peter Magosi said it is a fact that the security environment of the country has changed and hence the need to beef up. Brigadier Magosi went on to admit that there is a third force in the Masisi/ Khama feud, alleging that Masisi’s life is under threat. The weapons that could have attempted to end the President’s life have been revealed and when interrogating the make of the said weapons, this publication discovered a TiPX Pistol is a ‘paintball’.
This is a great solo marker or tactical backup sidearm, adding a new dimension to the marksman game. The TiPX also features an under- barrel Picatinny rail, external velocity adjuster and clear ammo windows, so that the user can see if it’s loaded, a removable barrel with A5 threads, ability to add a remote line, and foam lined hard shell carry case.
According to the Khama Security detail source, the weapons can be bought locally at firearms dealer shops and do not require any license. “They are not designed to kill but used in self- defense. This one here costs P 4799. 00 and bought over the counter,” the source said. According to the TiPX Website, “the all- new Tippmann Arms TIPX offers the general public the same non- lethal tool that security and law enforcement personnel use around the world.
Whether for home defense personal protection, or security, the TIPX delivers the stopping power needed to neutralize the target giving one time to plan their next move or call for backup. Hot pepper rounds burst on impact creating a cloud of dust around the target causing extreme pain and respiratory distress.”
It further reads: “Whatever was on their mind prior to being hit, is a distant memory. The TIPX uses standard easy-to-find 12 gram CO2 cartridges. The first trigger pull of the TIPX punctures the cartridge powering up the pepper gun. At this time you are now ready to fire and take charge of the situation.” The TiPX is owned by US Personal Defense Products LLC, the SOLE U.S. Distributor of the JPX in the US and every JPX 2 and JPX 4 are all considered LAW ENFORCEMENT grade products. Every JPX 2 and JPX 4 listed online or found in a retail store are LAW ENFORCEMENT grade products.
‘In February some of my private security team were arrested by the police on instructions from DIS (Magosi) for being in possession of weapons (paint ball guns, toys) in Palapye. They were being linked to me in a plan to assassinate Masisi in another state sponsored action to defame me. They were today acquitted of being in possession of weapons. The story by those in the well- known captured media who were told to put out was that these were to be used against Masisi, you may remember.
More dishonesty and lies against me have been exposed as the court ordered the case be withdrawn. I now hope going forward these irresponsible allegations against me will cease. The only assassination attempts that remain are those attempts against my character by the State which are factual, whilst there are those against my person, yet to be proven.
The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”
The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.
The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.
Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.
Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.
Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.
Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.
“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.
According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.
“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.
Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.
“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.
For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.
According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.
Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against womenis taking the livesof women and girls everywhere.
Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.
These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.
“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women. Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.
GBV in Botswana
UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.
“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP
In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.
“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.
The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.